Tuesday, 04 August 2020 09:02

Cheesed off by cheap imports

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Cheaper EU cheeses are being dumped in NZ, says local cheesemakers. Cheaper EU cheeses are being dumped in NZ, says local cheesemakers.

NZ cheesemakers are banking on anti-dumping legislation to bolster their battle against cheaper imported cheeses.

Simon Berry, managing director of Whitestone Cheese and spokesperson for New Zealand Specialist Cheesemakers Association on EU tariffs and trade, says up to 25% of retail cheeses are imported – mostly subsidised European cheeses.

With imported cheeses often selling for around half the price of local ones New Zealand producers are struggling.

Berry says Kiwi cheese producers can’t compete with cheap European product flooding into the market and wants an anti-dumping duty to be placed on some imported speciality cheeses.

He says the association recently found out about existing anti-dumping legislation in NZ.

“We are preparing to lodge a claim to MBIE to activate this legislation, without interfering with Free Trade negotiations” he told Dairy News.

The Trade (Anti dumping and countervailing duties) Act 1988 empowers the NZ Government to apply duties on dumped or subsidised goods coming into the country.

Berry says the association will be meeting this week on the issue.

European cheeses sold in NZ include Bulgarian and Danish fetas and blue vein cheeses, plus top retail seller Costello cheese made by global dairy giant Arla Foods.

Berry says there has been a gradual growth in imported EU cheese over the past three years.

With strong marketing and distribution networks, these high-volume subsidised EU cheeses are undercutting NZ cheesemakers.

He says Arla Foods lands its cheeses frozen in sea containers. They are then thawed and dated before hitting NZ supermarket shelves.

“They send it out frozen from the EU, fully subsidised, and they produce large bulk amounts of these cheeses with automated systems...so it’s landing here basically half price in containers and we see it on the shelves now.”

Berry says NZ cheesemakers need protection and he hopes the Government will come to the party and support them.

“We’re small and we’re young producers and we’re really battling when it comes to retail and competing with these guys. We need some form of protection.”

Dairy Companies Association of NZ chief executive Kimberly Crewther says the situation seems “very ironic”. 

“It is very ironic that the EU is arguing to maintain its high level of protection for cheese into its own market at a time when its own cheese is being sold at apparently very competitive prices in the New Zealand market,” she told Dairy News.

“This reinforces the complete lack of justification the EU has in arguing to maintain protection against NZ products.”

She says it’s “well past time” for the EU to move beyond statements of support for the UN sustainable development goals (SDG) to end poverty and undertake meaningful reform to address its tariff restrictions and subsidy distortions. 

DCANZ hasn’t been party to any discussions to date on the issue.

Its position on matters of this nature is guided by support for the WTO rules framework and the SDG 2 implementing action of ‘correcting and preventing restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets’.  

“This generally means we favour a situation where there is no implementation of tariffs by countries,” says Crewther.

“An imported product maybe more competitive in a market as a result of its producers having a comparative advantage (as is often the case for the dairy products New Zealand exports) and we do not believe that this is cause for an importing country to impose tariffs. The only exception to this is if product is being dumped or if a country’s subsidies were causing harm to other producers, in line with existing WTO rules.”

More like this

EU move cheeses off NZ producers

Moves by the European Commission to grant exclusive use of the term 'halloumi' to Cyprus cheesemakers is raising concerns among the New Zealand cheesemaking community.

Meat quota rates remain vital

A jump in the value and volume of New Zealand’s sheepmeat exports to Europe and the UK shows why preserving WTO tariff-rate quotas is so important, claims the Meat Industry Association (MIA).

UK/EU trade scrap worries exporters

Britain's decision to break its deal with the EU over Brexit is creating uncertainty for NZ dairy exporters, according to Malcolm Bailey — chair of the Dairy Companies Association of NZ (DCANZ).

Clock ticking on EU meat deal

Trade experts are warning that time is running out to secure the future of New Zealand red meat exports to the European Union.

A potential bogey for NZ/EU trade deal

The fallout from a golf match out in the west of Ireland could have negative repercussions on the outcome of New Zealand’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union.


SIDE heading to Ashburton

For the first time in its 23-year history, the two-day South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) is heading to Ashburton.

Open days on feeding calves

A series of open days will run in the North Island this month on controlling feed intake of calves and…

Rankin gets board role

The 2019 Dairy Woman of the Year, Trish Rankin, is joining AGMARDT as an associate board member.

Machinery & Products

Major deal for AgriQuip

New Plymouth-based AgriQuip has been appointed as the exclusive importer and distributor of the Major Equipment brand, with the aim…

Giant stands tall on goat farm

A Dutch Giant is playing such an important role at Schuler Brothers' Te Aroha West goat farming operation that the…

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Nestle's admission

OPINION: It is the biggest dairy company in the world but Nestle is under pressure after admitting that more than…

Milk is healthy

OPINION: Promoters of 'healthy' plant-based 'milk' take note! Regular consumption of cow milk is not associated with increased levels of…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter